This question clearly has a dual meaning. As far as where companies are holding their meetings, I heard a lot of talk at the recent IT&ME show (in October in Chicago) about keeping them regional and replacing international destinations with domestic ones — for now. Not because attendees are afraid to travel, but because they want to be close to home if something happens.
The bigger question: Where does our industry go from here?
The economic implications for the larger travel industry are staggering. In one estimate, if 10 percent of all hospitality-related jobs are lost — which is reasonable under these circumstances — we'd be looking at 1 million layoffs. As far as meeting planning goes, it's clear that the concept of “due diligence” has changed forever, and planners will have to scrutinize all risks involved in booking different programs and destinations. Security expert Richard Werth led a panel on this topic at the show and shares some advice in our article on page 23. Planners are also calling for practical and legal advice on how to protect themselves through. Hear from our legal expert, Jed Mandel, on page 31.
Many companies at the show reported using video- and teleconferencing to replace live meetings. On the incentive side, some are seeking alternatives to group trips, such as individual incentives, merchandise, and, yes, even cash. But perhaps most interesting of all was the show of support — and the business being booked — in the N.Y. booth. Several groups, including Meeting Professionals International, are actually moving their meetings to NYC. And we'll be on the scene when Microsoft kicks off its Windows XP in Times Square.
We wouldn't miss it for the world.